New Dynamics in the U.S.-Afghanistan Relationship

March 30: Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted an off-the-record roundtable lunch discussion of the current situation in Afghanistan and the status of U.S.-Afghan relations following President Ashraf Ghani’s address before a joint session of Congress. The discussion focused on the implications of Afghanistan’s leadership transition for U.S.-Afghan relations and how the U.S. can assist Afghan efforts at national reconciliation and strengthening civil society after decades of conflict.


Nancy Lindborg – President, United States Institute of Peace

  • Sworn-in last month, Ms. Lindborg is the new President of USIP. She is just returning from a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan focused on engaging government and civil society leaders.
  • Read her recent article on the trip and Af-Pak developments: “Afghan President Brings Hope for Peace,” USA Today, March 24th, 2015

Ambassador James Dobbins – former State Department Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Senior Fellow and Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security, RAND Corporation

  • Read his recent article on this week’s visit of high-level Afghan officials to D.C.

The recent high-level visit to Washington by Afghan President Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah and other high ranking officials resets the previously strained relationship and offers new opportunities for U.S. engagement on security, political and economic fronts. Ambassador Dobbins will discuss prospects for U.S.-Afghan relations in the near and long term and USIP President Nancy Lindborg will present her observations from a recent trip to Afghanistan with a focus on how civil society supports indigenous peacebuilding and national unity efforts. She will also speak about the broader U.S. priority to prevent and resolve violent international conflict. This discussion takes place after the recent decision of the Obama administration to keep a greater number of troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015 (troop numbers were initially planned to drop to 5,500 by the end of the year). A statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee by General John F. Campbell (Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan) highlights the current situation in Afghanistan with a focus on U.S. military support. Yet, beyond security threats, Afghanistan continues to face challenges to its economic development and the effects of decades of conflict on its civil society.

This was the 20th event in the USIP/PSA Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention, an educational program designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip staff with new perspectives on critical issues in the international conflict resolution and prevention field.